24 November 2016

The Most Powerful Force is Gentleness - E=mc^2 - DaoDeJing 43

The greatest power is gentleness or softness. It is more powerful than the hardest object. In its extreme form, it is substanceless void, like the electromagnetic force, energy without the mass, able to penetrate any solid wall. This is the principle of formless, the real meaning of non-action action, working without attracting attentions. Lao Zi give examples how such can be applied in DaoDeJing 43
DaoDeJing Chapter 43 Text & Translation:

1 天下之至柔,驰骋天下之至坚。
The greatest gentleness in the world run circles around the hardest of the world.

2 无有入无间, 吾是以知无为之有益。
The thing that is without a body can enter into that without any gap.
Hence, I understand the benefits of not forcing your way.

3 不言之教,无为之益,天下希及之。
Teaching without talking (by exemplifying behavior), the benefits of non-violating action, the world know very little to do them.

Gentleness is stronger than Hardness
The direct way is to push forward, to break through any obstacle in  front. But there are many other ways to overcome an obstacle. Direct is fine if your strength is greater than the obstacle. When it is not, there are many other indirect ways. Lao Zi says the gentle and flexible is more powerful. We can take a route around the obstacle which will be longer but we don't exhaust ourselves. If the obstacle is an animal object, we can tempt it to move away. If it is a human being, we can persuade him to allow us to go past. The key point is this --- you don't have to have a direct attack by force. There are many other ways. Think about the alternatives. That's also a winning strategy against a strong enemy. Sun Zi tells us to avoid his strengths and attack his weaknesses. 

Empty can enter any solid wall - Electromagnetic Waves
Taking the gentleness, or softness, to the extreme, it becomes emptiness or without a body. If it is emptiness, then it can go through solid wall since is it formless energy, energy without solid mass. Think about electromagnetic waves. You can receive radio, TV, and mobile phones signals anywhere anytime (assuming the energy is powerful enough to travel the distance and through the resistance). Maybe we can call this "the Formless Principle" which states without form, it can go through walls. That is why it is stronger than the hardest object.

Application of Formless Principle - Teaching by Walk rather than Talk
Lao Zi gives us an example of teaching without speaking or perhaps nagging is a better word. How do we teach without talking? By showing. By doing as an example for others to follow easily. Many companies have statements of mission, visions, and values. The best way to describe values statements is to describe them in observable behavior so that others can copy them. Describe them in abstract terms are subject to different interpretations by different people. 

More Examples?
This seemingly no-action formless work brings many benefits but few people understand them said Lao Zi. Another example given by Lao Zi is the Invisible Leader, the highest form of leadership. The details are in Levels of Leadership - Can We Measure Leadership? of DaoDeJing 17.

Lim Liat (c) 24 Nov 2016

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